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Life after bankruptcy: strategies for beginners

Bankruptcy is something they do not teach you in school. It can feel like uncharted territory. After your bankruptcy is final, your emotions may run the gamut. At first, you felt great to be free from former debts and see the slate clean.    

You probably survived on adrenaline during the bankruptcy process, but now that it is over, bewilderment sets in. You could cycle from relief to anxiety several times a week, every day or even twice an hour. Now what?

Picking up the pieces of your life can feel grim

What about that beautiful used car you want to buy? Forget it. Can you still rent a different apartment? It will never happen. What if you get credit checked for the wide-screen TV? Fail. These are just a few of the unpleasant rumors you may hear after bankruptcy. Ignore the negative side-noise. Above all, do not give in to fear. There truly is life after bankruptcy. A few simple strategies will help you find it.

Use tools to rebuild your credit

Your bankruptcy will be on record for years, but you can soften the blow. Start today to make sound financial choices. You can add line-upon-line to create a new, positive image. Your consistent progress can cause past errors to fade. Check your free annual credit report, dispute any errors and make sure you pay every bill on time. Save money for emergencies and avoid the temptation to take on new debt.

 Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

  • Old habits die hard; pay attention to the difference between "wants" and "needs"
  • Avoid retail stores and only pay in cash at local stores or gas stations
  • Discover smart shopping at local thrift stores or online used stores
  • Follow the old saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"

Regain financial freedom

 After you learn new behaviors and trust in your commitment to change your spending habits, you are ready to scale the mountain of financial freedom.

  • When you are on solid footing, consider opening a secured credit card
  • Create a realistic budget and stick to it
  • Beware of scammers lured by your bankruptcy
  • Do not take out paycheck loans
  • Never borrow from friends or family unless you have a dire emergency

Continue to move forward with patience and, in time, you can regain your financial freedom while you build a better future along the way.

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